Opening in Greek: Πρὶν ἀπὸ 2500 χρόνια, ἐδῶ στὸν λόφο τῆς Πνύκας, οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ἐπινόησαν τὴ Δημοκρατία. Τὸ γεγονὸς ὅτι παίρνω τὸν λόγο ἐδῶ στὸ ἴδιο μέρος, ἐνώπιόν σας, εἶναι, τὸ ξέρω, ἕνα πολὺ μεγάλο προνόμιο. Γιὰ αὐτὸ εὐχαριστῶ θερμὰ τὴν κυβέρνηση καὶ τὶς ἑλληνικὲς ἀρχές, ἀλλὰ εἰδικότερα τὸν πρωθυπουργὸ Ἀλέξη Τσίπρα, ποὺ μὲ κάλεσε νὰ μιλήσω ἀπὸ ἐδῶ! (Translation by Elpenor: “Nearly 2,500 years ago, right here on the hill of Pnyx, the Athenians invented Democracy. The fact that I come to speak here, in the same place, in front of you, is, I know, a very great privilege. This is why I thank warmly the government and the Greek authorities, especially the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who invited me to speak from this place.”)
I do not know, ladies and gentlemen, if I should take your applause as indicative of your relief that I have stopped speaking in Greek or your thanks for my having tried.
I thank you anyway… Thank you, Prime Minister, dear Alexis, thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for welcoming me to this place, for welcoming me today, but before I start my speech today, I would like to more than spare a thought for my fellow citizens, I wish to stand with those who, since yesterday, are living in worry and destitution, several thousand kilometres from here in Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin, who have been hit by a terrible hurricane. The hurricane has left victims. damaged lives and serious damage in its wake and, this evening, I would like to spare a thought for them, too.
Thank you, Prime Minister, for welcoming me here. Our presence, your presence, here this evening is the recognition of a profound and secular friendship which links Greece and France. Because there are few nations who have transmitted and inherited in some way the values which have made and make our Europe in the way our countries do. Very few nations have such an intimate link between their own culture and their identity. Indeed, these ties which unite us, are the ties of freedom, Human Rights, values which have made our Europe and which no vicissitude of history has been able to sway.
I cannot, however, limit myself to the emotion of these historical sites, no matter how strong. Rather, I wish to hear what they have to say. Because these places demand that we listen to them, because it was here that the modern State was created, here that the city of Athens was built patiently by the sovereignty of the people, the sovereignty of their destiny, we must ask ourselves without complacency “what have we Europeans done with our sovereignty?”. Because it was here that the risk of democracy was taken, the risk that puts the government of the people into the hands of the people in the belief that respectable law is better decided by as many as possible and not as few, we should ask ourselves: what have we done with our democracy?
And the words that, not far from here, Pericles spoke in honour of warriors who died in war, let us listen to them and reflect even more deeply. “Freedom”, he said, “is our rule for governing the Republic, and our daily relationships. Suspicion has no place.” But we Europeans, do we still have trust in ourselves?